The best day of Eric’s life came days before the worst.
After years of waiting, dozens of tests and a two-week stay in a psychiatric ward, Eric finally received his first injection of testosterone. Eric is a 23-year-old Ukrainian transgender man. Assigned female at birth, he says starting hormone therapy was a major step in his quest to become his true self.
“It was pure bliss. I was euphoric, it was the moment I had been waiting for so long,” said Eric, who asked that his last name not be used because he is worried. for his safety, told CNN in Chisinau, Moldova, in July.
But just days after Eric received what should have been the first of a series of testosterone injections administered at a clinic in Kyiv, Russia invaded Ukraine. Everything changed.
“The clinic had closed due to the danger of airstrikes. I had testosterone, but no way to get it [it administered]. I had no needles and there were huge shortages of everything in pharmacies, even the most basic products, because obviously during the war there is a great need for things like syringes,” said said Eric.
Russia’s brutal assault on Ukraine has upended the lives of millions of Ukrainians. But for Eric and many other trans people, the war has also made it much harder to be who they are.
Many have lost access to life-saving drugs and psychological help. According to the Council of Europe’s human rights commissioner, some have been completely cut off from their communities and forced to live in spaces where LGBTQ people were not welcome.
Bureaucratic issues, such as issuing personal documents under a different gender, can put them at additional risk.
Ukrainian transgender rights group Cohort says it has helped more than 1,500 people since the war began, helping them move to safer areas and helping them pay their bills. The NGO is also working with shelters to ensure they have the basic supplies they need.
But the first request Cohort has received in recent months is for getting hormone therapy, or HRT, according to Anastasiia Yeva Domani, co-founder and executive director of Cohort.
HRT can be used by trans women, trans men, and non-binary people to make their physical appearance more consistent with their gender identity. The drugs alter the hormone levels of testosterone or estrogen in the body and trigger physical changes that normally occur during puberty.
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